Notts County owner calls for police action over Munto era

League Two club's new chief claims a 'substantial sum' has disappeared
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The Independent Online

Notts County's new owner plans to call in the police over concerns about accounts left behind by Munto Finance, the company that took over at Meadow Lane last summer with promises of multi-million pound investment.

Ray Trew, who bought County last week despite a winding-up order from HM Revenue and Customs for unpaid tax, claims that Munto not only "invested nothing" during the six months before they abandoned their unlikely Premier League ambitions in December but took out "a substantial sum" which needs explanation.

"We will be calling in the authorities because we are not happy with what we have found," Trew said.

The 55-year-old former Lincoln City director, who owns Lincoln-based Contracting Solutions Group, says County will pay the £374,000 due in tax before the club is due in the High Court next week but will need £2.5m to pay its way to the end of the season – largely because of massive player contracts sanctioned by Munto – without touching more than £4m left behind in debts.

"Since Munto came in nobody has been paid a penny. There is not one creditor who has received money and the only person who put money in was Peter Trembling, the former chairman, who is owed £500,000.

"We have never had a conversation with anyone from Munto. I was told by Peter – and I have no reason not to believe him – that they have vanished off the face of the earth."

Trew said he believes the real intention of Munto Finance, who claimed to represent a Middle Eastern consortium with plans to invest between £25m and £50m, was to fund the club through big-money sponsorship.

"Munto got Sven Goran Eriksson involved and created a media hype," he said. "I think they were attempting to obtain big sponsorship deals so that it would eventually become self-funded.

"But you have to live in the real world. This is a division two football club and you will only obtain a certain level of sponsorship, unlike the Premiership or the Championship. It was pie the sky. If someone had £25m-£50m to invest they were not going to choose Notts County, even with its history as the oldest football league club."

New chief executive Jim Rodwell said that no blame for the club's imperilled position was attached to Trembling, who bought control of the club from Munto in December before selling it to Trew last week.

"He has been honest and open with us. I think he has been left carrying the can," said Rodwell, who hinted that high earners such as Kasper Schmeichel and Lee Hughes might have to be sold in the summer.

Trew said that despite the wage bill he could fund day-to-day running costs himself but could not rule out placing the club in administration if more debts are uncovered. "We will try to work out a schedule to repay creditors but it depends on their attitude and the size of the debt my accountants eventually uncover," he said.

Money walks: County's debts

* £4m Total debts known, although accountants are still carrying out "forensic examination" of books.

These debts include:

* £500,000 in outstanding tax, of which £374,000 is the subject of a winding-up petition from HMRC.

* £500,000 owed to former executive chairman Peter Trembling.

* £96,000 owed to brewers Marston's.

* £37,000 owed to Nottingham RFC in legal fees related to failed attempt to end a ground-share agreement.

* £300,000 to former directors relating to earlier period in administration.

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